Why do certain groups and individuals seek to do harm in the name of God? While studies often claim to hold the key to this frightening phenomenon, they seldom account for the crucial and growing role that religious fundamentalism plays not just in radical Islam but also in the world’s two other largest religions: Christianity and Hinduism. As the first book to examine violent extremism in the world’s three largest religions together, Sathianathan Clarke draws on studies in sociology, psychology, culture, and economics to paint a richer portrait of this potent force in modern life. Clarke argues that religious fundamentalism is fueled and driven by the forces of globalization; that religious fundamentalists have more in common with their counterparts across religious lines than they do with the members of their own religions; and that religious fundamentalism becomes a surrogate religion, replacing in all three cases the religious tradition from which it arose.
In light of the challenges these competing fundamentalisms pose to the peace and stability of the world, Clarke proposes that Christians, Muslims, and Hindus refuse to allow modern fundamentalism to define their ancient religious traditions. Instead, he calls for a rejection of fundamentalism’s zero-sum world in favor of a serious and sustained engagement with the members of all the world’s religions, as well as those of no religion. Readers will gain new and important insight into the problem of religious extremism and violence by seeing how it works in the world’s three largest religions.